Another train shot, though this is a portrait of a person rather than a locomotive. Somehow yesterday’s loco just seemed much happier to be where it was. Then again, I sympathise: when is 7am on a Tuesday morning in February a time of vim and vigour?
What goes down South, must come back up North again (at least, unless one wants to be paying hotel bills for an excessive length of time). I don’t know where this train was going, but I was on the 10:30 back to Leeds, and then home.
The flight home. The Sahara looked astonishing: this was a day when I wish I could break my own rules and post more than one photo. The River Niger certainly was worth seeing, a braid of blue and green running through a sandy wasteland. We must have crossed that somewhere in Mali.
But instead I will go with this shot; for much of the three hours it took to cross the desert I was thinking, hmmm, well it’s certainly barren, but more rocky than sandy. But then came this sea, this ocean of dunes, tinged by the setting sun. This must be far enough north to be somewhere in Algeria. Not that national boundaries really mean a lot here. If anything this is Arrakis. Had a gigantic sandworm crested out of this stuff with Fremen on its back, I would not have been surprised.
OK, it’s time to do the main panorama from my place of incarceration. The movie director in my head would still prefer to wait for the lighting to be just so, but to be honest, breaks in the cloud have been rare this last week — indeed, as I type this on Wednesday morning, it’s raining heavily and none of this can be seen at all.
To the left, Ladder Hill, depicted in close up a few days ago. Below it, tucked in its valley, Jamestown, the capital and one of the few places on the island where one can actually land a boat. To the right, Rupert’s Valley, more industrial (i think those are fuel pipelines visible) — between them, Munden’s Hill. All to be more intimately explored at a later date. In the direction shown, the next land is, I calculate, the Ivory Coast, or perhaps Ghana, at least 1,800 miles away.
OK then, I am successfully online on one of the world’s most remote islands, 1,200 miles from the nearest other land. The landing — on a bare airstrip perched on top of piles of volcanic cinder — was not as rough as I’d been led to believe it might be. Ten days of quarantine await, however; you and I both will have plenty of opportunities to inspect my accommodation between now and my release on Friday 19th.
I was all packed and ready to go on my Atlatnic journey on schedule. But with a 24-hour flight delay to sit through first, the mild irony of this bus, the latest (irrelevant) ‘rail replacement’, did occur to me.
I’m off tomorrow though. My Internet connection will be unpredictable until the end of November, so for the next three weeks I’ll upload when I can.
Yes folks, after 615 consecutive days on the island of Great Britain, I have finally left it. It was February 2nd 2020, in Bucharest, that this blog last featured anywhere outside England, Scotland or Wales. You know the reasons why. And yes, I appreciate travel can be seen as a privilege, and I’m grateful that I’ve finally broken the run, for all that the last 20 months have, at least at times, seen plenty of interesting sights.
This is not my final destination: instead this was taken on my first descent, into Keflavik airport, where I and the family were last seen waiting out the 12-hour flight delay that EasyJet (never, ever again) subjected us to in July 2019. I changed planes here and moved on. You can tell it’s Iceland, though — only that island has random burned bits like this, huge lumps of volcanic cinder that just seem here to be a normal part of the landscape.
Saturday 22nd May 2021, 12.20pm (nearly) (day 3,558)
They’ve still got a couple of minutes before the departure of the 12:21 from Leeds to Doncaster. But we run anyway in these situations, don’t we; almost instinctively. It takes a certain confidence not to do so.
On this day last year I was in Corfu. Today, I should have been in Tromsø at the “Creating Knowledge” conference. The stats of this blog show that over the last nine years or so I have subsisted on a diet of a lot of travel, mainly for work but with a healthy amount of personal exploration thrown in. Not this year, though. And what with the devastation that this will wreak to airlines and the welcoming nature of immigration counters around the world (that was irony), who knows? Perhaps this will be a permanent shift. We will have to see.
For about fifteen minutes this evening the sunset turned the sky into a blazing inferno. It came and went away again very quickly and several people I spoke to later, who had been inside at the time, had no idea what they had missed. They can be excused — but not the people on the train, who seemed far more interested in their screens than the real-life show outside. I wanted to be sat on their side of the train for the best show. But I guess this shot illustrates it well enough.